The abbey, traditionally considered one of the oldest monasteries in western Europe, was held to have been founded by Saint Maximin of Trier in the 4th century. Maximin (d. 346) and other early bishops of Trier were buried in the crypt of the church on the site, an early Christian cemetery, and the church, at first dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist, was later renamed after Maximin. A Benedictine monastery was established here in the 6th century, possibly replacing an earlier community. It was destroyed by the Normans in 882 and re-built from 942 to 952. In the 13th century it was destroyed by a fire and re-built again on the plan of the previous buildings.
The question of the abbey's "Reichsunmittelbarkeit" was for centuries a matter of conflict, contested by the Archbishops of Trier, to whom in 1669 the abbot formally renounced all claim to the status and made submission to the Archbishop in his capacity as Prince-elector.
The abbey was secularised in 1802. The monastic buildings were put to various secular uses - barracks, prison, school - and were totally destroyed in World War II except for the freestanding gateway. A school stands on the site.
The church of St. Maximin survived the war, but was de-consecrated, and between 1979 to 1995 converted to secular uses. In 1995 it opened as a concert hall, now well-known for its exceptional acoustics.
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- ↑ "Nortmanni Treverim cum monasterio sancti Maximini vastantes Galliam cremaverunt", Annales S. Maximini Trevirensis in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptorum series, II:213 (noted by Warren Sanderson, "The Early Mediaeval Crypts of Saint Maximin at Trier", The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 24.4 (December 1965:303-310) p. 304 note 1.
- ↑ A detailed account with bibliography is in Sanderson 1965.
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